miércoles, 10 de octubre de 2018

When I was 14


When I was 14, I was in 9th grade at Champagnat high school. At that time, that was the end of so called “third cycle on basic education” and for the next year I had to choose some kind of specialized bachillerato (that meant the cycle of middle-education consisting in 10th, 11th and 12th grade, just before college or university).

On that purpose, the school brought me and my classmates the opportunity to take a career aptitude and personality test managed by psychologists from UCA, so that we (as very immature teenagers) could make a better choice.

Since a few months before, I had been considering basically two options: academic bachillerato, focused in subjects like math and physics (wich was supposed to prepare me for further university studies), or industrial bachillerato, focused in practical duties like electricity (wich also would allow me to follow a college career later). It's not superfluous to say that this second option implied me to left the place where I was studying for ten years and to enroll in Santa Cecilia high school.

It's important to say that, at that time, career tests weren’t as usual as they are nowadays, because psychology itself were just starting to develop as a profession in our country, so the experience promised to be quite new and interesting; furthermore, I had been very confused about the big question, what should I study? As far as I can remember, I was far away from any final decision.

So, I started the tests with high expectations, hoping to find some existential answers to clarify my immediate future. After the tests and when the D-day arrived a couple of weeks later… well, the results were not exactly as I had been expected.

The psychologist brought me the definitive sheet of paper with the results… and I anxiously focused my attention on the last paragraph, the final and highly expected recommendation which was supposed to guide my confused teenage-life among the entangled paths of fate: “You are fit for any kind of bachillerato, since you have all the abilities required to succeed in any field”. And if it hadn't been enough, it was followed by this enlightning answer: “Considering your personal interests, industrial bachillerato is recommended and, as a second option, academic bachillerato.”

Ok, guys, thanks for nothing!

Nevertheless, now (more than 35 years later) that I’ve read the previous paragraphs on that very sheet, I’ve found some funny and interesting comments (maybe I’d say “diagnoses”) about me.

Regarding my character and personality, they said: “You defend your ideas and state your points of view, without conceding unless solid arguments are given, but you’re at risk on become stubborn. It’s recommended for you try to be more flexible and fight some tendency to be self-enclosed”.

Well, I can’t deny it, neither at that time nor nowadays.

But they also said: “You’re a very reflective person, patient, generally on good mood, idealist, trusted, tolerant and thoughtful”.

“Patient, generally on good mood” when I was 14…? Come on, guys! Are you sure you didn’t swap some of my tests accidentally with someone else’s?

domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2018

Un intento más, un paso más.


Acudir a la sala de cine a ver una película nacional es una rareza, primero porque la producción local es exigua y segundo porque nuestro público es reacio a pagar por un boleto de cualquier forma de arte made in El Salvador.

Dicho lo anterior, puede considerarse bastante aceptable el número de espectadores de la función sabatina de La palabra de Pablo, dos días después de su publicitado estreno en el país.

No sé si la gente llegó por "apoyar el arte nacional" como subcategoría, por ver la evolución del director Arturo Menéndez con respecto a Malacrianza y Cinema Libertad, o si basaron su expectativa en el reciente anuncio de que Sony Pictures y HBO adquirieron los derechos para su difusión en Latinoamérica. El hecho es que había bastantes personas atentas y expectantes, ambos adjetivos sostenidos a lo largo de los 84 minutos de duración del filme.

Ciertamente, los espectadores/as querían saber qué estaba pasando pero, sobre todo, querían comprender por qué estaba pasando… y es ahí donde la película revela su mayor debilidad, pues aun cuando tiene la capacidad de enganchar a la audiencia en la trama no es capaz de ofrecer respuestas satisfactorias, incluso para alguien que guste y esté habituado al papel de receptor activo.

La palabra de Pablo muestra mejoras importantes con respecto a las anteriores obras de Arturo, como el manejo de cámara, la edición de sonido y las actuaciones de los personajes principales. Sin embargo, como ya han señalado otras críticas (unas más benévolas que otras), hay varios personajes innecesarios o impertinentes, así como una buena cantidad de hilos sueltos y acciones sacadas de la manga, sin credibilidad (no porque no puedan pasar en la realidad sino porque en la lógica interna del filme no encuentran asidero).

Ahora bien: tampoco nos desubiquemos, que las carencias antes mencionadas son bastante comprensibles, dadas las limitaciones presupuestarias y de producción propias de un país en donde este y cualquier otro arte o deporte es amateur. Por eso mismo, no perdamos de vista que para hacer una película se requiere del admirable espíritu quijotesco de alguien que al mismo tiempo produce, escribe, dirige, busca patrocinio y promociona su propia obra… con las virtudes y carencias que eso implica.

Y es entonces cuando uno acaba entendiendo que, al fin y al cabo, todo esto se trata de "arte nacional”, con el estigma que eso supone y con la actitud receptiva y acaso benevolente que este requiere. Lo siento, pero esto es y parece que seguirá siendo así por mucho tiempo. Por ello, poniéndola en nuestro contexto, la película tiene muchísimo mérito. Mi sugerencia es que pague por verla y disfrute lo que pueda.

domingo, 26 de agosto de 2018

Waiting eternally

Have you put yourself in a funny or ridiculous situation in the middle of the street, looking like a candid country person that knows nothing about the modern civilization?

Well, I did.

It happened when I went to a little town in South Carolina, in the United States, last may.

Some of you know that I use to do my workouts on a daily basis, trying to keep a healthy lifestyle. During my brief stay in the States, I kept doing some exercise, jogging a couple of miles in the early morning around the city.

All of you know that we, as Salvadorans, aren’t known precisely for obey the laws, even the transit signals.

Instead, Americans seemed to me very respectful about the transit signals (at least those who lived in that town).

For example, they have semaphores for cars and for pedestrians in every cross-street, and they don’t cross the street when the light is red, even if there isn’t any car in a hundred meters around: they wait at the sidewalk for the green light.

So, the first morning that I went jogging I told myself: “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, and when I reached the first crossing, I stopped and waited for the pedestrian semaphore to turn green.

I must say that at that time, by the dawn early light, there were neither cars nor people in the streets, but I kept waiting for the green light for one, two, three minutes… and nothing happened.

Finally, I changed my mind and decided to cross the street even during the red light.

And suddenly… I noticed that just beside me, in the lower part of the semaphore’s pole, there was a tiny box with a button, and a little label that said: “press the button to cross”.

You can imagine what happened in the end: I pushed the button… and crossed the street.

Looking back on the story, I think if I were another person looking at me, standing for no apparent reason in the sidewalk in the middle of a lonely city, waiting for who knows what, I’d probably wonder “is that man dumb or something?”

Well... it happens you leave your little village to go to a modern city.

miércoles, 25 de julio de 2018

Speaking about learning English at 51

This speech was addressed to mid and high school students, during their English Festival on July 25th, 2018

Good morning, dear students.

I’m glad to be here, invited by Diana Flores (also known as Diane Flowers), head of English department. She asked me to address you about the importance of learning a second language, which in this case is English language.

Probably you’re wondering “Why him, why Góchez”?

Well… In case you don't know, currently (at my fifty-one years old) I'm enrolled in English lessons at UCA Language School on Saturdays, and I’m pleased to share with you my motivations about this learning experience.

I’d like to start by saying that, after my high-school times (a very long time ago), I had never received formal nor informal English lessons, but I'd always felt attracted to bilingual communication.

During my years at the university, when I was studying semantics (that is, the meaning of the words and sentences) I realized that when you make any translation something is always lost, because every language “divides” reality in different ways, and if you really want to understand the original meaning and sense, you need to think in other language.

This aspect is particularly important if you want to enjoy some pieces of art, like music, TV series and movies, not to mention novels and poetry, fields in which -as you know- I'm specialized.

In my case, even the basic English language knowledge that I grabbed informally after my high-school days has allowed me to read a few books, and learn some audio and video software, that has been very useful in my job.

But even if you are not interested in arts or literature, there are many other so-called “practical benefits” for learning English, like get a better job or have better opportunities to get a scholarship.

Having said the above, nowadays there is one personal special reason because I'm actually very interested in learning and developing English fluency, and that's because recently I was invited by some relatives to visit them in the United States and Canada.

I tell you: when I knew that I would go (because I had to), I got panic, because, you know, one thing is to read and listen standard English, and other very different thing is to have real conversations with English native speakers, and I didn’t want to fully depend on my relatives to communicate myself, using them as interpreters.

So, in last January I decided to face the challenge and take the diagnose exam at UCA Language School. I qualified for level ten out of twenty-one. Last week I completed level twelve and I expect to finish the whole course in 2020, and then take the TOEFL as a certification.

And that’s the story.

I hope you have found some motivation in my testimony and keep active an enthusiastic in learning English and other languages.

Thank you for your attention.

miércoles, 13 de junio de 2018

Mi abuelita le rezaba a San Antonio

En junio de cada año, mi abuelita Delfina (la Niña Fina, como la conocían sus amistades) organizaba el rezo de toda la novena a San Antonio de Padua, que culminaba el día 13 con la celebración principal.

Los recuerdos de aquellos episodios de mi lejana infancia son un tanto inespecíficos, pero forman un solo bloque ubicado a mediados de los años setenta.

No sé cuándo mi abuelita comenzó con esa costumbre ni tampoco a qué se debía tan especial devoción: si a una promesa cumplida o a alguna expectativa a futuro; el caso es que la sala de su casa no solamente tenía un altar permanente, sino que la misma pared principal había sido edificada para tal fin, con espacios diseñados ad-hoc para los cuadros, las imágenes y los candelabros.

Mis hermanas y yo asistíamos obligados por nuestros padres, que no llegaban porque a esa hora trabajaban en turno extendido para mantener a flote el Liceo Tecleño. Éramos, pues, "el público" que siempre estaba allí durante las ocho sesiones en que la rezadora titular, la Niña Adriana, llegaba puntualmente a las 7:00 p.m. para dirigir el rito.

Aparte de nosotros, a la novena asistían escasamente cuatro o cinco personas más; en cambio, el propio día 13 había casa llena con reparto de tamales, café, refrescos y hasta vino de consagrar, jolgorio vecinal en el que no faltaban los cohetes de vara.

Con excepción de este último día, en las sesiones previas los cuatro hermanos Góchez Fernández nos aburríamos solemnemente en medio de aquella monotonía de oraciones, padrenuestros, avemarías y letanías, de casi 45 minutos de duración, por lo que con cierta frecuencia buscábamos elementos de distracción, siendo uno de los favoritos el divertirnos imitando la pronunciación y entonación características de la rezadora principal.

En una ocasión, creo que hacia 1975, mis hermanas tuvieron la ocurrencia de llevar una grabadora de casete para capturar la memorable voz de la Niña Adriana. Obviamente, no podían tenerla a la vista pues eso habría delatado sus traviesas intenciones, así que una de ellas se presentó con un chal chapín, pese a que no hacía frío, bajo el cual podía tener clandestinamente el aparato.

Creo que Mamá Fina comenzó a sospechar cuando vio que el cuarteto de nietos se había sentado extrañamente cerca de la rezadora (pues desde lejos la grabadora no captaba bien la voz), pero lo que acabó descubriendo todo fue que la duración del casete era de 30 minutos y se terminó antes de finalizar el rezo, haciendo que el aparato diera un sonoro clic con el apagado automático. Entonces, los titánicos esfuerzos por disimular las risas nerviosas se vieron completamente sobrepasados y ya no pudimos más.

Tengo bien grabado (en la memoria, no en el casete) el gesto de reprobación de la Niña Adriana, que no paraba de decir “¡Estas niñas traviesas, no respetan…!”, pues la culpa recayó en mis hermanas mientras yo salí indemne (porque, como suele decirse, “yo pasando iba”).

Diabluras aparte, aquellos rezos continuaron mientras mi abuelita tuvo salud y ánimo para organizarlos, aunque los graves acontecimientos sociopolíticos que afectaron al país y a nuestra familia a partir de 1979 los dificultaron cada vez más.

Mi abuelita Delfina falleció en 1983, a los 83 años, y con ella terminó esa tradición; pero todavía el agradable recuerdo de aquellas tempranas noches de junio, entre el aburrimiento y las travesuras, me saca algunas sonrisas.